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Welcome to the Departure Lounge: Adventures in Mothering Mother Hardcover – February 10, 2009

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this frank account, by turns sad and terribly funny, the journalist Federico describes how her distant, patrician octogenarian mother, Addie, grew batty and vulnerable. Federico, the youngest of Addie's five children, rearranged her life with her own family in Nova Scotia to fly back and forth over the course of several years to Oldhill, N.J., to assist, along with her brother William, her mother and her mother's Alzheimer's-addled second husband, Walter. Recently married (Addie's first husband, the author's father, died of a heart attack years before), the couple drank heavily, complicating Walter's tendency to become abusive and Addie's physical frailty and bad eyesight. Finally, constant home care was required for the couple, necessitating the hiring of a team of revolving, frequently in-fighting workers, some truly caring, others downright crooked. The house became a disaster zone, christened the Departure Lounge, where the inhabitants erupted in loony non sequiturs and erratic behavior. Addie would put on all her jewelry and sing show tunes (until the jewelry mysteriously disappeared); Walter began receiving sex toys in the mail; and a trip to the bank resulted in $1,600 in dollar bills flying out of the limo window on the way home. Federico gently delineates the humiliating burden caused by the loss of memory, while humanely portraying a brave new sympathy and understanding between her mother and herself.
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Review

“Meg Federico has written a deeply moving, hilarious, and unforgettable manifesto on mothering her mother, as Addie takes center stage in the finale of her life. Book clubs will rally around this one–for the laughs, for the sheer honesty, and for the lively discussions that will ensue. Federico has woven the details of her experience, sometimes tragic and always transcendent, into a memoir you will not be able to put down. This is a mother-daughter love story, with an ending that sparkles like the finest diamond.”
–Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series and Very Valentine

“Dealing with her aging mother and stepfather is not fun, but in Federico’s deft hands, it’s poignant, terrifying, and very funny.”
–Phyllis Theroux, author of California and Other States of Grace

“[A] frank account, by turns sad and terribly funny . . . Federico gently delineates the humiliating burden caused by the loss of memory, while humanely portraying a brave new sympathy and understanding between her mother and herself.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“What Meg Federico thinks of as her parents’ spiraling out of control is sort of normal behavior in the South. That’s why I loved this book so much–it’s wise and hilarious, and, no matter where you live, you’ll get something out of it, especially if you have aged parents.”
–Gayden Metcalfe, co-author of Being Dead Is No Excuse

“Federico, who has the eye of a sitcom writer, views her mother with a mixture of love, humor, sympathy and exasperation. . . . A funny yet touching portrayal of the indignities of aging.”
–Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400067952
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067954
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,012,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. J Penick on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Meg Federico's Welcome to the Departure Lounge is a poignant, hilarious, beautifully written and invaluable book.

It tells the story of a mother's decline and eventual death, and a daughter's determined effort to make this difficult process as dignified and decent as possible. As her mother lapses further into dementia, and her household (consisting of an Alheimers-afflicted husband and an assortment of mostly well-meaning relatives, friends and care-givers) falls into chaos, Ms. Federico struggles to bring sanity to the situation. But she finds she has to make more personal sacrifices and to deal with more bizarre situations than she had anticipated. And she must also find a way to resolve the conflicts in her difficult relationship with her mother.

Ms. Federico accomplishes the difficult task of telling this story in a way that recognizes the outlandish humor in the frustrations that constantly arise, even as she gives full weight to the underlying heartbreak, sorrow and loss. She gives us a true affirmation of the process of living with all its tenderness, pain, giddy humor, sacrifice, indignity, exuberance, sadness, and inevitable loss.

For anyone who has ever been involved in tending to an aging parent, this book will strike many (and not all painful) familiar chords. And for anyone who is anticipating or currently tending to an aging parent, Welcome to the Departure Lounge will will be an invaluable, funny and wise companion.

It's also a wonderful funny and heartwarming read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Emma Penick on February 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Federico's Welcome to the Departure Lounge was a rare treat. I curled up in front of a roaring fire and didn't stop reading until the last page. Laugh-out-loud-on-the-subway funny, Federico has a sharp wit and the ability to use an anecdote to illustrate her point with Sedaris-like precision. Similar in tone to Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, the precipitating incident for the major life change is the decline of a mother, rather than getting a divorce. This book will do wonders for caregivers and receivers alike in the same way that pregnancy/parenting books which finally acknowledged that there was more to it than rosy cheeks and happy giggles helped parents feel they weren't alone (or, perhaps more important, weren't monsters). Federico's big-hearted humor permeates the book, so too does her fairness: Federico has a strong point of view that she tempers with an ability to see that others might not feel the same and have their own reasons for their behavior. Welcome to the Departure Lounge is about caring for an ailing parent, but it is also about exploring a complicated parent-child relationship. I highly recommend Welcome to the Departure Lounge.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Meg Federico is a successful journalist, often writing humor pieces for the National Post. She lives in Nova Scotia, Canada and her mother lived in New Jersey. As her mother ages, Federico worries..

" Watching my mother for the past few years had been a lot like watching a blindfolded lady ride a unicycle on a tightrope. You can't take your eyes off her as she wobbles up there completely unaware that she's fifty feet above the ground because she can't see. And if you attempt to point out her peril, she thinks you're trying to ruin her career."

And then it happens - her mother does suffer a serious fall and is comatose in a Florida hospital. A hospital that is under court order to stay open, in a derelict neighbourhood with squalid conditions. Federico flies down, her brother arrives and they try to decide what is the best for their mother.

As they struggle with making decisions and overcoming seemingly unthinkable conditions, we are treated to flashbacks of her mother Addie's life and times.

Addie is married to her second husband Walter, who suffers from Alzheimer's. They both drink too much and neither has been declared incompetent. The solution reached by Meg and her stepsister Cathy (Walter's daughter) is to keep them looked after in their own home - which comes to be known as the Departure Lounge. Although the stories are at times humorous, many times I was saddened and appalled by the situations described. The family is very well off and they end up with eleven paid staff to look after these two confused, elderly people. Staff that ends up stealing, doesn't show up and half the time doesn't seem to care.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cary B. Barad on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Written in an extremely appealing Nora Ephron-ish style with a judicuious mix of humor and pathos. A very scary scenario of what middle-aged adults can expect to encounter when their parents begin to falter. Really gives a good feel for a deteriorating household and a grown daughter's heroic efforts to keep everything afloat. Even with a comfortable income and many assets, it's not an easy job. One should definitely consider long term care insurance to plan for and help alleviate the burdens we all face.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Robinson on July 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As an only child who has been caring for my 90+ year old parents, I think this book literally saved my life. It put everything I've been going through into perspective. Nothing my parents have done, neurotic and eccentric as they are, compares to the experiences in this book. I couldn't put the book down and loved every page. I would like to read more of her books. Very well written and gave me absolution.
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